Faith, politics, pride, scandal, community, THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY now playing at Diversionary Theatre through December 9th, may be based on past events, but finds that’s its themes are still current today.
THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY was written by The Civilians, and investigative theatre company that was on site and created it from actual interviews with citizens of Colorado Springs when a scandal rocks the Evangelical movement. This show is an often humorous look at what makes us up as a nation, and features music from the late Michael Friedman’s (BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON).
Below Matt M. Morrow, Director of this show as well as the Artistic Director of Diversionary Theatre, talks a little bit about why he chose this show, why theatre can help in presenting sensitive subjects for discussion, and what he hopes the audience walks away from this show thinking about.
With a current news cycle where there seems to be a scandal breaking with alarming frequency, how do you approach a show that can feel so loaded with hot button topics; truth, religion, identity, scandal, forgiveness, etc?
The topicality of this show is one of the main reasons I programmed the show. But the overall message of this show is about understanding, and listening to someone’s truth. This is what I am hoping people walk away with: understanding someone else’s point of view that is very different than their own. Of course, I am not expecting this to alter our community’s ongoing fight for equality and visibility – not one bit. But I do hope that this show helps bring us closer together.
Since this play was created through hundreds of interviews of actual people involved in the community where this scandal broke, how does that inform the piece as you work on it?
These people speak like regular citizens because they are. There is an authenticity at play that cannot be denied, and we are working to honor this. The cast and I have been working on uncovering the truth behind these people through their stories and the details of their mannerisms and actions. The goal is to facilitate an incredibly intimate exchange between the actors and the audience. This is the cornerstone of the show; what makes it unique and special. It’s been really interesting to find compassion for people you absolutely do not agree with politically. It has expanded my heart and mind as a person and artist, and I’m hoping this will prove true for the audience as well.
THE BEAUTIFUL CITY joins THE LARAMIE PROJECT and COME FROM AWAY as pieces that are created by interviewing those who lived through it and getting their perspectives on life changing events with great success. Why do you think theatre can be successful presenting different perspectives on sensitive topics/events like this where other mediums may not be as successful?
I think these projects are successful because they are the real words of real people, and there is something undeniably powerful about that. Theatre is also a more personal experience than many other performing arts (namely film and TV), as the live, in-the-moment relationship between the audience and actor is electric and powerful. This is heightened when the work is direct address and the actor is speaking directly to the audience as their scene partner. It includes the audience in the story directly. This dynamic makes both the actor and audience more vulnerable in a way, and allows for a deepening of this living connection.
What do you hope audience members walk away talking about after seeing this show?
Oh I always hope the audience walks away with so much! I hope the audience walks out of Diversionary with greater understanding of the Evangelical community, a deeper sense of compassion, a renewed look at their personal faith or spirituality, and a greater appreciation for the LGBT community’s fight for equality. Most of all I want the audience to walk away with hope for a brighter future for our country.
THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY is playing at Diversionary Theatre through December 9th. For ticket information go to www.diversionary.org